My earliest memory of that year is sitting in the dining room eating and playing cards with my aunt, uncle, cousins and grandmother Blanche. The Superbowl was on and the Giants were playing the patriots. They won that day and it was one of the most exciting games I had watched in quite some time. From heartstopping plays by David Tyree and Plaxico Burress to Eli Manning and that defensive line we were all in. We started that year off as a family who loved playing and watching games and being around one another and ended with a quick and sudden reminder of how blessed we were to like each other and get along.
Throughout the year, we would continue to willingly spend time together. That summer we got together and gave my aunt a 50th surprise party at my best friends house. Everyone invited didn’t show up but the ones that did brought a smile across my aunts face that I had never seen before. It was a great day of family and friends and another memory from 2008 that I reflect on and think about often.
That same year I ended a friendship with one of my closest friends. In hindsight, I believe that I was in a rough place emotionally. I was working at a job I hated and ultimately got laid off. Forced in a lot of ways to live with my best friend I took on a frustrated and angry persona that spilled over into many of my relationships including one with my friend. I said things to her that were out of my character. In fact, my relationships with many of my friends began to falter leading up to that year and by the time 2008 hit I was down to a handful. It’s funny because at the end of the day “I’d rather have 4 quarters than 100 pennies”.
Living with my best friend and her husband was unique. I was grateful to have a roof over my head but I was met with resistance. Resistance that I mostly put on myself. For the three years that I had lived there, I constantly questioned whether I was getting in the way, helping out enough and overstaying my welcome. I was driving myself crazy and over thinking everything. By 2008, I had become damn near depressed. My heart was still recovering from my broken engagement, I was unemployed, no longer friends with one my closest friends and constantly feeling inadequate.
By the end of the summer, things began to shift. I had 8 interviews with a company that ultimately ended up with me being hired as a Field Sales Consultant for Henry Schein. Once I was hired in September I was to complete a 3 week training session in Wisconsin. Those three weeks as brutal and homesick as I was gave me a lot of time to think. I realized that it was time for me to set some goals including finding my own place. And I did. By November 1st I was moved out of my best friends home and firmly implanted in my own home near my family and close to the water. I felt so great. I felt renewed.
Two weeks later, my grandmother died. My heart, the center of my family suddenly gone was the second most devastating loss in my life. I think about her everyday and sometimes question God as to why then, why at all. When she died I truly felt that my family would dissipate. She was the glue and I couldn’t imagine life would be the same without her. It definitely wasn’t the same, but her death showed me that yes she was the center piece that held us together. Yes, she may not be here in the physical presence but she remains that center that keeps us together. Planning her funeral, my family came together. There were no arguments over money, over her possessions or over her house. Everyone came into agreement and to this day, I admire my aunt and uncles and I know that she left us but we are still us.
2008, saw many highs and lows and ups and downs. That year showed me that I could stand on my own. That year showed me that because I was laid off didn’t mean I wouldn’t bounce back. That year tested my friendship with my best friend. That year made me realize just how much I love my family in good times and in bad. That year showed me that life is about growth it’s about learning, it’s about loving and it’s about being able to reflect on the things that make you better and figuring out a way to spread that knowledge to others in grand and simple ways. Five years ago I was a different person. To get to this side I had to experience deep loss, high gains and an overwhelming feeling of love. 2008 was my year.